New rates approved this week for the Canfield Casino will have city residents paying more if they want to rent the historic building for an event.
The City Council approved the new rate schedule for 2012 in a 3-2 vote Tuesday after debating the changes at length.
Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco said he originally planned to have the city charge a flat rate of $3,000 per day for both city residents and non-residents. City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan reminded Scirocco earlier this year that city residents, according to the City Charter, are supposed to be given priority on casino rentals, however.
Scirocco brought a new rate schedule to Tuesday’s meeting indicating that non-residents would pay $3,000, while city residents would pay $2,800 per day. This is a nearly $300 increase from the 2011 rental rate for city residents.
The new rates also include two new categories. A rate of $1,200 per day for government entities was added, along with a special fee for visiting conventions at $2,300 per day during the week and $2,500 per day Friday through Sunday.
Accounts Commissioner John Franck said he thought it was unfair to increase the rate city residents pay to rent the casino in Congress Park because city residents help pay for the upkeep of the building through their city taxes. He also noted that the non-resident fee of $3,000 per day was a reduction from the $3,200 fee charged in 2011.
Scirocco said the majority of the casino rentals are for weddings and most of these rentals come from people living outside the city.
He said the Department of Public Works is also attempting to lure nonprofit organizations to use the casino through lower rates for those groups, including $1,500 per day Monday through Thursday and $1,800 Friday through Sunday.
Revenue from rentals of the casino, the Saratoga Music Hall on the third floor of City Hall and one or two other city venues was between $360,000 and $380,000 for 2011. This was about the same amount as in 2010, according to city officials.
“We are not breaking even. We are actually losing money,” Scirocco said, citing the cost to maintain, renovate, and operate the casino.
The debate about rates continued until Mayor Scott Johnson finally asked the council for a vote. The new rates passed with Franck and Madigan opposed.
The same fees adopted for 2012 will remain in place in 2013, Scirocco said.
For more information on renting the casino contact DPW employee Betty French at 587-3550, ext. 2471, or visit the city website at www.saratoga-springs.org.